who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. David Attenborough backs
huge Apollo-style clean
energy research plan
2. Hitler’s world may not
be so far away
3. Are Neocons an
and Corbyn: There Is An Alternative
More Americans Have Been Shot to Death in the Last 25
Years Than Have Died in Every
Pope Francis Is About to Blow Elizabeth Warren Out of
This is a Nederlog
September 16, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about a large project to try to get clean energy that is supported
by David Attenborough (I like
science, but am doubtful of its chances of being adopted); item 2 is about a recent book about Hitler and the
Holocaust, that mainly looked vague to me (after reading all of
"the long read"); item 3 is about the
neoconservatives and the dangers these pose; item 4
is a good article about Sanders and Corbyn; item 5
is about how many Americans were shot dead in the last 25 years in
"gun- related deaths"; and item 6 is about pope
Francis, and I agree he is special (but will probably soon be replaced
by a more conservative pope).
Attenborough backs huge Apollo-style clean energy research plan
The first article today is by Damian Carrington on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
An Apollo-style research programme to make
renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels has won the backing of Sir
David Attenborough, who says this alone would be enough to halt climate
The renowned naturalist
joins a group of eminent scientists, business executives and
politicians backing a 10-year public research and development plan to
cut the costs of clean energy and deliver affordable technologies to
store and transport solar and wind power.
In a letter to the
Guardian on Wednesday, the group argue that the approach, mirroring the
intense Apollo programme that put men on the moon, “will not only pay
for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”.
“I have been lucky enough
to spend my life exploring the world’s oceans, forests and deserts. But
the Earth, with its spectacular variety of creatures and landscapes, is
now in danger,” said Attenborough. “Just one thing, however, would be
enough to halt climate change. If clean energy became cheaper than
coal, gas or oil, fossil fuel would simply stay in the ground.”
I say. Before going on: The
first link in the quotation also is mildly interesting. Here is some
more from the present article:
The letter, whose
signatories include oil executive Lord John Browne, former energy
secretary Ed Davey and climate scientist Sir Brian Hoskins, says: “The
plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15bn (£10bn) a
year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy. That
compares to the $100bn currently invested in defence R&D globally
Here I get a bit skeptical,
and not because I am against vastly more scientific research,
which I am a strong proponent of, but for two other reasons:
15% of the yearly amount
spent on "defence R&D" (really: war R&D), although
quite reasonable to my mind, seems politically speaking
a whole lot of money, and also I have not seen any clear objectives
other than "clean energy" that is "cheaper
than coal, gas or oil".
Then again, there are lots
of rather important backers:
The backers of the
Global Apollo Programme, who also include
Unilever CEO Paul Polman, economist Lord Nicholas Stern, MP Zac
Goldsmith, former chair of the Financial Services Authority Lord Adair
Turner and former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell, urge the
world’s nations to back the plan ahead of a crunch climate summit in Paris in December.
Well... I am for
it, but I would be rather amazed if it were adopted. (Also, I
much doubt Attenborough is right in his saying "this alone would be enough to halt climate
change", but OK - I do
want more money invested in fundamental science and "clean energy" is
2. Hitler’s world may not be so far away
next article is
Snyder (<- Wikipedia) on The Guardian:
This is from the
beginning, and I should first say that this is marked "The long read";
that Snyder is a professor at Yale who has a new book out, called "The
Holocaust as History and Warning", of which the present essay was
adaped; and that I know more than most about the Holocaust and WW II,
simply because my parents and
grandparents were among the very few Dutchmen who really
resisted the Nazis, which also got my father and his father
arrested in July of 1941, after which collaborating Dutch judges
sentenced them as "political terrorists" to concentration camp
punishment, where my grandfather was murdered:
Most of us would
like to think that we possess a “moral instinct”. Perhaps we imagine
that we would be rescuers in some future catastrophe. Yet if states
were destroyed, local institutions corrupted and economic incentives
directed towards murder, few of us would behave well. There is little
reason to think that we are ethically superior to the Europeans of the
1930s and 1940s, or for that matter less vulnerable to the kind of
ideas that Hitler so successfully promulgated and realised.
but my parents and grandparents certainly did not belong to the
royal "we" Timothy Snyder presumes. Also, I doubt whether I would
attribute a “moral
instinct” to myself (and I don't know what Snyder means by that term),
although I clearly have a conscience, and most of the rest of this
also is vague and speculative.
And in fact this - "vague and speculative" - applies to much of this
"long read". Take this, for example:
characterise Hitler as an antisemite or an anti-Slavic racist
underestimates the potential of Nazi ideas. His ideas about Jews and
Slavs were not prejudices that happened to be extreme, but rather
emanations of a coherent worldview that contained the potential to
change the world.
Hitler was an antisemite and
an anti-Slavic racist, but it is true he was more. But how
would saying he is an antisemite etc. "underestimate the potential of Nazi ideas"? I have no idea. Neither do I have much of
an idea about Hitler's supposed "coherent worldview" (and I have
read a fair amount about the man).
Again, there is this:
In 1942 the German
policy of total killing then spread back west into territories that the
Germans controlled before 1941: the subject nations of western Europe,
the allies of central and southern Europe and indeed to Germany itself.
German Jews were not murdered inside prewar Germany, but deported
instead to zones of statelessness in the east, where they could be
Really?! There were no concentration
camps in Germany were German Jews were murdered before the war? It
is true many more were murdered after the war started, but this doesn't
mean it didn't happen since 1933, and especially to "Jewish
If we think that
we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler. If
we believe that the Holocaust was a result of the inherent
characteristics of Jews, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, or
anyone else, then we are moving in Hitler’s world.
Perhaps - but again this is
rather vague. The following seems mostly true:
The market is not
nature; it depends upon nature. The climate is not a commodity that can
be traded but rather a precondition to economic activity as such. The
claim of a right to destroy the world in the name of profits for a few
people reveals an important conceptual problem. Rights mean restraint.
Each person is an end in himself or herself; the significance of a
person is not exhausted by what someone else wants from him or her.
But again it is vague, and
mixes up factual claims, like "the market is not nature" with vague
ethical claims about rights and persons. I happen to agree with them,
but I know there is a large discrepancy between claims of fact and
claims of values.
Again, the following is not true:
is for the recognition, endorsement and protection of rights,
which means creating the conditions under which rights can be
recognised, endorsed, and protected. When states are absent, rights –
by any definition – are impossible to sustain.
For surely, although rights
are protected by states and legal systems, there also are human
individual ideas of rights, and these even may be kept up, by some,
as political prisoners in concentration camps.
There is rather a lot more in this "long read", but it didn't convince
me this is a book I ought to read.
3. Are Neocons an Existential Threat?
next article is
by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
arguably have damaged American national interests more than any group
in modern history. They have done more harm than the marginal
Communists pursued by Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, more than the
Yippies of the 1960s, more than Richard Nixon’s Watergate burglars in
the 1970s or the Iran-Contra conspirators in the 1980s.
The neocons have plunged
the U.S. government into extraordinarily ill-considered wars wasting
trillions of dollars, killing hundreds of thousands if not millions of
people, and destabilizing
large swaths of the planet including the Middle East, much of
Africa and now Europe. Those costs include a swelling hatred against
America and a deformed U.S. foreign policy elite that is no
longer capable of formulating coherent strategies.
Yet, the neocons have
remained immune from the consequences of their catastrophes. They still
dominate Washington’s major think tanks as well as the op-ed pages of
virtually all the leading newspapers, including The Washington Post,
Wall Street Journal and New York Times. They hold down key positions in
the State Department, and their “liberal interventionist” pals have the
ear of President Barack Obama.
I agree - and think it is
correct this has "neoconservatives" rather than "neoliberals".
There is considerably more
in the article.
4. Sanders and Corbyn: There Is An Alternative
next article is
by Robert Borosage on Common Dreams:
This starts as
Jeremy Corbyn, a
sexagenarian socialist and vegetarian teetotaler, and for 32 years a
prickly, independent backbencher in the British parliament, has been
elected in a landslide to lead the British Labour Party. The victory of
the “British Bernie Sanders” raises the obvious question: Could that
British parties and
politics are far different from those of the United States. But the two
countries have experienced parallel sea-changes in the past. The
victory of the “Iron Lady,” movement conservative Maggie Thatcher in
1979, presaged Ronald Reagan’s stunning victory in 1980. The two
leaders helped launch the conservative era, arguing in Thatcher’s
words, “there is no alternative.”
Bill Clinton packaged
himself as a “New Democrat” to tack to these prevailing conservative
winds and win the presidency in 1992. Tony Blair followed and imitated,
championing “New Labour” to win the lead of the party in 1994 and the
country in 1997. Both touted their savvy in embracing conservative
positions on welfare, crime and deregulation.
Corbyn’s victory and
Sanders’ stunning rise in the race for the Democratic presidential
nomination – he now polls better than Clinton in both New Hampshire and
Iowa, the only states where voters are paying much attention – suggest
a new sea change could be in the making.
Perhaps, but this is a good
article - and I say "perhaps" because, while I like both Sanders and
Corbyn, and would like to see them win, I am not at all certain this
One of the reasons this is
a good article is this on the "Third Way"
Yes, precisely. Also,
there is this, that is relevant in my estimation:
Blair and Bill Clinton
celebrated a “third way” that championed bipartisan embrace of
financial deregulation, corporate trade policies (“free trade”), fiscal
austerity (budget surplus), rollback of poverty programs (“welfare
reform”) and tough-on-crime extremism (“mandatory sentences”).
Followers of both scorned labor unions as outmoded relics. Both
heralded the end of the “era of big government.”
The results were
devastating. Financial bubbles followed by financial collapse. Gilded
Age inequality and a declining middle class. Mass incarceration. Public
squalor. Unending trade deficits that savaged American manufacturing
and American workers. Millions in America surviving on less than two
dollars a day.
The Clintons and
Blair profited personally after they left office, rewarded no doubt for
their service. Both boasted of their sophistication in message
development, polling and focus groups. Now people are sick of packaged
politicians. Corbyn and Sanders are, in the modern lingo, “authentic.”
For the Clintons made several
tens of millions of dollars and Blair made between 20 and 80
million pounds, and I think that is relevant because these
are personal riches (and they would - very probably - not
have made these riches if they had not been politicians).
Here is the last bit that I also agree with:
Corbyn will have a
hard time reviving a badly divided and demoralized Labour Party.
Sanders remains a long shot in the Democratic primaries. But one thing
is already clear: The center will not hold. The old consensus is
collapsing in the wake of its failures. People are casting about for a
Yes, both may well fail.
But the popular interest in them shows that considerable
segments of ordinary men and women have not been diverted by
the "Third Way"
baloney, and that is a good thing.
More Americans Have Been Shot to Death in the Last 25 Years Than Have
Died in Every War
next article is
by Hannah Levintova:
This comes with the
following chart (which was made a bit smaller to fit space):
Clicking the image leads you to the article
It is true
(as the article says) there are more than 1.1. million American deaths
if "killed in war" is extended some, but the main point of having this
graphic here is
that in a mere 25 years over 800,000 Americans were killed in "gun-
Pope Francis Is
About to Blow Elizabeth Warren Out of the Water
final article today is
by A.J. Vicens on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
I agree: The present pope is
rather different from most of the previous popes.
Pope Francis will arrive
in the United States next week, with stops planned in Washington, New
York City, and Philadelphia. In the nation's capital, he will become
the first pope to address a joint session of
Congress. When House Speaker John Boehner extended the invitation, he said Francis' teachings "have prompted careful reflection
and vigorous dialogue among people of all ideologies and religious
views." He may not have appreciated just how radical the Pope's
In a sharp departure from
his predecessors in the Vatican, Francis' statements on such issues as climate change, divorce, homosexuality, and abortion have rankled conservatives around the
world. The pushback on some of his more progressive interpretations of
Catholic teachings has also angered many Catholics, triggering what the
Washington Post described as a
"conservative rebellion" within the church.
Indeed, A.J. Vicens continues by showing why:
In November 2013,
he wrote his blueprint for where he wanted to lead the church, a
document known as the Evangelii Gaudium or the apostolic exhortation, in
which he focused on this issue. Here are six of the pope's most
critical comments from the document on one of the biggest problems facing the United States:
I will give the headings (bold in the original)
but leave the text to your own interests - but yes, the pope's ideas are
Here is the text that belongs
to the last item:
On "trickle-down" economics:
On the "idolatry of money" leading to a "new tyranny":
On the role of money:
On the ways income inequality leads to violence:
the ways income inequality "kills":
"Just as the
commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to
safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou
shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy
kills... Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the
survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As
a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and
marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of
Indeed. But it will not
a catholic, and also I am afraid that the present pope, who is
exceptional, will remain exceptional, and will be soon replaced by a
considerably more conservative successor.
But meanwhile it is good to have a leader of over a billion persons
say these things.